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‘Captain Marvel’ (review by Sharon Knolle)

Produced by Kevin Feige
Screenplay by Anna Boden,
Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson,
Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou,
Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan,Annette Bening,
Clark Gregg, Lee Pace and Goose the cat.

 

Fitting somewhere between Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy in tone, Captain Marvel is (for the most part) a total blast.

It is, however, slow to take off: The first 20 minutes on the Kree planet of Hala are necessary to set up her character arc, but far from compelling.

Asgard in Thor was an infinitely more interesting place than Hala, which seems to be mostly spare military barracks and holodecks straight out of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The movie really starts clicking when she crash lands on Earth – right into a Blockbuster store. The ’90s nostalgia – the film is set in 1995 – is a big part of the film’s appeal, from her NIN T-shirt to the slooooow computer jokes.

Brie Larson completely sells us on the character: She’s got The Winer’s Soldier’s “Who am I?” dilemma and spotty memory and Captain America’s gung-ho, do-the-right-thing-without-question energy. And she’s funnier and more wry than either of them. How would she do against them in a fight? I wouldn’t bet against her.

She’s more powerful than she realizes and much of the film is about getting her to the point where she finally embraces and wields that strength. The montage from the trailer where she – at various ages – gets back up after being knocked down is an even more powerful moment when it happens in the film.

De-aging Samuel L. Jackson for the entire movie works surprisingly well. It’s also great fun to see a younger, less cynical Nick Fury who’s yet to become the perpetually scowling, eye-patched SHIELD director. The scene where he fawns over kitty Goose on first acquaintance is not something we’d see modern-day badass Fury do. The chemistry he has with Larson is some of the best in the MCU.

And it’s refreshing that Carol Danvers doesn’t have the usual Daddy Issues or romantic baggage. She’s out to save the universe and her friends and that’s plenty. The film also gives us something we haven’t really seen in the MCU before, a strong female friendship.

The Falcon to her Captain America is Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), a fellow no-nonsense test pilot who has some great moments, keeping her cool even when facing down green-skinned aliens.

As the head Skrull, Talos (the shape-shifting alien race that the Krees are sworn to defeat), Ben Mendelsohn seems at first to be just another one-note villain. I’d rather see the Emmy-winning Aussie do more films like Animal Kingdom than big franchise movies that can often swallow up actors, but he brings some unexpected notes and humor to the character.

The audience I saw it with cheered, laughed, and clapped several times. It’s a fun flick that might not resonate with certain dude-bros, but every woman in the audience can relate to being told to smile by some random dude. And applaud Carol’s response.

Yes, there are two end-credits sequences, one featuring scene-stealer Goose the cat.

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

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